How to Light Mirrors

Since ancient times mirrors have been a priority feature of interior living. They fulfil a functional need for self-portrayal but also as a method to enhance the levels reflected light within a room. Whatever the purpose of a mirror, tackling how to light them with sharpen your lighting design skills and add a polish to look and feel of a project. Lighting a mirror is an interesting topic. In effect, we actually light around them in order to light subject in the reflection or to create a framing effect.

Lighting a face in a mirror

Mirror

Lighting for a mirror in a bathroom particularly needs to be done with a combination of light sources from a combination of directions. The face requires an even wash of light but ideally without shadows within the eye sockets and under the chin.

Solution: bring light down vertically and push it towards the face.

Example: Use a downlight in the ceiling positioned just above the head slightly towards the front of the face – use the edge of the sink as your guide. This will light the front of the face but will create shadows if this remains the only source. Negate the shadows by throwing light onto the face via wall lights or reflecting light off the wall from a hidden linear source. This principle is demonstrated in the main image above – one downlight reflecting light within the alcove.

Hairdresser Case Study Click here

dressers

Professional use of a mirror requires the lighting of customers faces and hair in an expert way. In this instance the business had always only lit from above so during the refurbishment we hid a strong linear source (High output T5 fluorescent in various sizes) with the purpose of making a shadow gap around the perimeter – washes sufficient light down the wall as to act light as a wall light – reflecting light onto the face to act as a counter-balance to the light from the downlight. (approx. 900 lumens each).

Remember that whilst the face (and hair in this case) is lit well, there is plenty of light to enter the interior space which minimises the requirement for extra light sources to litter the ceiling.

Lighting a Bathroom

Use the mirror itself as a way of concealing light sources. For instance, wash light down onto the sink and taps from a hidden source at the base of the mirror.

Use mirror adaptor kits (if available) for mounting wall lights onto a mirror (i.e. Astro Mirror adaptor kit). This helps spread the pressure around the hole cut in the glass of the mirror when the light is tightened against the glass.

Suspend a light source in front of a mirror: We sell IP44 drop pendants that are the perfect solution for positioning a light source in front of the face when all the wall is mirrored.  Two versions – an Astro and hand made bespoke solution are available. 

Have you considered mirrors that contain their own lighting? These can be useful as they provide the light where it’s most needed, in front of the face. However, a tip is to watch out for the colour temperature of the light. A cold crisp LED or fluorescent may give what seems a more realistic rendition of a skin tone BUT LED needs the CRI to be high for a true colour rendering – at least 80 RA.

Fixture-panel

Also – we have found that some sources that come with certain mirrors and wall lights are too bright, where your eye squints a little to compensate for the brightness. We have found that to be the case in certain cases where a long linear source is required but not dimmable.

Mirrors in a Living Space

Mirrors above fireplaces and furniture help reflect light in the day and can effectively widen a space. At night this reflector is more effective as it is in the day. To replace the broad illumination of daylight in the evening, position a downlight source near to the mirror which will introduce some light for the mirror to push back into the interior. However, being by nature reflective mirrors can be a trial to light

Backs of Cabinets

Tricky! Any light fitting you put in there will be reflected back, which more often or not will look ugly and ill thought through. The purpose of lighting inside a cabinet is to help brighten the objects within, so the light has to be in the foreground, however, this is the furthest away from the mirror and therefore is more likely to be seen in the reflection.

Solution: Hide the source so only the light itself will spill downwards – put an LED strip inside a deep aluminium extrusion at the front of the cabinet so the extrusion masks the light source.

Dressing Rooms

Can be an issue when there is no room for a wall light due to the presence of cupboards. We try and light from behind the mirror if there are surfaces to reflect light off or make sure there is a downlight near the mirror to illuminate the viewer and position another one or two lights in order to reflect light off the cupboard doors or walls which will contribute to even out the shadows.

Remember to call us at Orange Lighting for a full range of lighting mirror options available and ask for free advice on all methods to enhance mirrors within your next interior project.

FREE TRAINING - never miss our articles

FREE TRAINING - never miss our articles

More Articles

Pendant Lighting Ideas How to use Pendant Lighting. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar
Ceiling Lighting Ideas How to use Ceiling Lighting. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar
Smart Lighting Ideas How to use Smart Lighting. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar
Floor Lighting Ideas How to use Floor Lighting. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar
Table Lighting Ideas How to use Table lights in an interior. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec
Recessed Lighting Ideas How to use Recessed Lighting Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar

You have clicked to ask for our collection of questions we often ask new clients tailored for kitchens but relevant in many ways for all areas. This insight should help you work through important questions for your own project. Just fill in the form and we’ll deliver it direct to your inbox. All the best with your project!

CHEAT SHEET: The Kitchen Lighting Questions We Would Ask You

* indicates required
* indicates required

If we already have your profile on our database, enter your email address and we will send you easy instructions on how to get your free PDF!

Whatever your experience, everyone benefits from the better use of lighting to improve our world. So we want to stay in touch to help train you with relevant communication – we are fully GDPR compliant and you can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy policy details: orangelighting.co.uk/privacy